What is evidence?
Evidence refers to information that suggests or demonstrates that an intervention will or does work. Evidence-based services refers to techniques and strategies whose effectiveness has been supported by research studies. Evidence-based programs refers to a collection of services used together whose effectiveness has been supported by research studies. The Switchboard Evidence Database is a continually-growing collection of evidence-based services and programs.
Given differences in setting and target population, to increase the likelihood of effectiveness, evidence-based services and programs often must be adapted based on client and practitioner characteristics, and then ideally evaluated. This is done within the framework of evidence-based practice. Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a decision-making process which integrates (1) the best research evidence available, (2) information on client characteristics, culture, and preferences; and (3) practitioner expertise to guide and inform the delivery of interventions.
There are numerous benefits associated with evidence-based practice1:
- EBP promotes the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of interventions and reduces the likelihood of harm
- EBP leads to the development of new knowledge
- EBP facilitates the decision-making process for practitioner
- EBP fosters lifelong learning and critical thinking among practitioners
- EBP promotes positive outcomes by emphasizing shared decision-making between practitioners and clients
Why an evidence database for refugee service providers?
One of Switchboard’s project objectives is to improve the capacity of resettlement service providers to provide evidence-based services. Switchboard’s annual needs assessments of ORR-funded service providers consistently demonstrate a desire for information about evidence-based services. The lack of an existing database focused solely on research related to outcomes, interventions and populations served by resettlement service providers, contributed to the development of Switchboard’s evidence database. This database includes individual studies as well as evidence summaries that provide decision makers with the most recent, highest quality evidence available on a particular resettlement topic in an easily digestible format to facilitate evidence-based practice. These evidence summaries are intended to be used primarily at the program planning level. Identified gaps in evidence may be used to inform future research.
Studies included in the Switchboard Evidence Database must report on an intervention(s) and an outcome(s) related to that intervention(s). The Switchboard Evidence Database prioritizes the most rigorous intervention research designs. These include:
- meta-analyses (systematic analyses of sets of existing evaluations of similar programs);
- systematic reviews (syntheses of the best available evidence on specific research questions) that use meta-analysis or narrative synthesis focused on evaluations of the impacts of at least one specific policy, program, or intervention;
- published individual impact evaluations using randomized controlled trials (RCTs/C-RCTs), natural experiments, quasi-experimental techniques such as difference-in-difference (DID), instrumental variables (IV), regression discontinuity (RDD), propensity score matching (PSM) or other forms of synthetic matching, as well as fixed effects techniques with interaction terms;
- published literature reviews; and
- suggestive evidence from published studies using methods including uncontrolled before and after tests, post-test only, interrupted time series (ITS), cross-sectional regressions, longitudinal panels, cohort and case-controls, as well as purely qualitative techniques.
Studies included in the database will focus primarily on high-income or upper middle-income countries, including but not limited to the United States. Studies included must have been published within the past ten years. The database prioritizes for inclusion study samples that include one or more of the following ORR-eligible populations: Refugees, Asylees, Special Immigrant Visa Holders (SIVs), Cuban and Haitian entrants, Victims of Trafficking, Amerasians, Survivors of Torture, and Humanitarian Parolees. In the event of no available studies with these populations, the search may be expanded to adjacent populations such as immigrants or low-income persons.
Outcome Areas & Interventions
Priority outcomes and interventions are identified annually through Switchboard’s needs assessment and consultation with ORR.
Detailed Search Protocols
Detailed search protocols for each identified intervention are available in the relevant evidence summary. These detailed search protocols include: websites and databases searched, population terms, methodology terms, and intervention terms.
|Mental Health||mental health and psychosocial support services|
|cultural competency training for mental health providers|
|peer support groups|
|Safety||disaster and emergency preparedness services|
||women’s employment interventions|
||programs for low-skilled and low-literate people|
|public libraries & migrant community centers|
|community technology centers|
|Inclusive Communities||community initiatives|
|school-based anti-bias program|